26 September, 2020

  • Parliamentary Scrutiny on Backburner (Polity & Governance)
  • Vodafone Tax Controversy- (Economy)
  • Regional Rapid Transit System- (Polity & Governance)
  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (History)
  • Fridays for Future Movement (Environment)
  • Doha-Kabul Journey as a Road to nowhere- Reference
  • Question for day

Prelims Quiz


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    UPSC Current Affairs:Parliamentary Scrutiny on backburner – Pg 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance |Mains: GS Paper II - Polity & Governance

    Sub Theme: Need for Parliamentary Committees | UPSC      

    About Parliamentary Committees

    • Parliamentary Committee means a Committee which is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker and which works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or to the Speaker and the Secretariat.
    • By their nature, Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds: Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.
    • Standing Committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. The work of these Committees is of continuous nature. The Financial Committees, Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
    • Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Railway Convention Committee, Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex etc also come under the category of ad hoc Committees.

    Need for Parliamentary Committees

    • Scrutiny - The need for Committees arises out of two factors, the first one being the need for vigilance on the part of the Legislature over the actions of the Executive, while the second one is that the modern Legislature these days is over-burdened with heavy volume of work with limited time at its disposal. It thus becomes impossible that every matter should be thoroughly and systematically scrutinised and considered on the floor of the House. 
    • Consider Complexity & Nature of Bills - Considering the complexity of Bills, nature of conduct of business of Parliament and limited time available at Parliament’s disposal (Budget Session, Monsoon Session & Winter Session), good deal of Parliament’s business is therefore, transacted in Committees of the House, known as Parliamentary Committees.
    • Deliberation & Discussion - In a Committee, the matter is deliberated at length, views are expressed freely, the matter is considered in depth, in a business-like manner and in a calmer atmosphere.
    • Vibrant Link between Legislature, Executive & Public - In most of the Committees, public is directly or indirectly associated when memoranda containing suggestions are received, on-the-spot studies are conducted and oral evidence is taken which helps the Committees in arriving at the conclusions. Thus, Parliamentary Committees acts as vibrant link between the Parliament, the Executive and the general public. 
    • Assist Legislature & Prevent Misuse of Power of Executive - The Committees aid and assist the Legislature in discharging its duties and regulating its functions effectively, expeditiously and efficiently. Through Committees, Parliament exercises its control and influence over administration. Parliamentary Committees have a salutary effect on the Executive. The Committees are not meant to weaken the administration, instead they prevent misuse of power exercisable by the Executive. 
    • Provides Expertise - Entrusting certain functions of the House to the Committees has, therefore, become a normal practice. This has become all the more necessary as a Committee provides the expertise on a matter which is referred to it.


    It may be divided in terms of their functions under four broad heads:



    (a)  Committee on Petitions

    (b) Committee of Privileges
    (c) Ethics Committee.



    (a) Committee on Government Assurances
    (b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation and
    (c) Committee on Papers Laid on the Table



    (a) Business Advisory Committee  
    (b) Rules Committee.



    (a) House Committee;
    (b) General Purposes Committee; and
    (c) Committee on Provision of Computers to Members of Rajya Sabha

    Committee on MPLADS – Formed in 1998.


    • The need to constitute some kind of Subject Specific Committees or the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees was felt for the last several years.
    • In 1989, in fact, 3 Standing Committees were constituted which dealt with Agriculture, Science and Technology and Environment and Forests.
    • In 1993, it was finally decided to set up 17 Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees each consisting of 15 members of Rajya Sabha and 30 from Lok Sabha to cover various Ministries/Departments of the Union Government in order to further strengthen the accountability of the Government to Parliament.
    • With the addition of 7 more Committees in July 2004, the number of Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees was raised to 24 but with reduced membership of 10 members from Rajya Sabha and 21 members from Lok Sabha.
    • Of the total Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees, 8 were placed within the jurisdiction of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha and 16 within the jurisdiction of the Speaker, Lok Sabha. 
    • The Chairmen of the first 8 Committees are appointed by Chairman, Rajya Sabha and the remaining 16 by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
    • Rules 268 to 277 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Conduct of States and Rules 331 C to 331 N of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha govern the Constitution and functioning of these Committees.

    DRPSC which comes under the purview of CHAIRMAN - RAJYA SABHA


    Committee on Commerce


    Committee on Home Affairs


    Committee on Human Resource Development


    Committee on Industry


    Committee  on Science & Technology, Environment & Forest


    Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture


    Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice


    Committee on Health and Family Welfare

    DRPSC which comes under the purview of SPEAKER - LOK SABHA


    Committee on Agriculture


    Committee on Information Technology


    Committee on Defence


    Committee on Energy


    Committee on External Affairs


    Committee on Finance


    Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution


    Committee on Labour


    Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas


    Committee on Railways


    Committee on Urban Development


    Committee on Water Resources


    Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers


    Committee on Rural Development


    Committee on Coal and Steel 


    Committee on Social Justice & Empowerment 


    Functions entrusted to 8 DRPSC

    • to consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/ Departments and report thereon. The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions;
    • to examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/ Departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon;
    • to consider the annual reports of the Ministries/Departments and report thereon; and
    • to consider national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon:

    Provided that the Standing Committees shall not consider matters of day to-day administration of the related Ministries/Departments.

    Reports of the Committee

    1. The report of the Standing Committee shall be based on broad consensus.
    2. Any member of the Committee may record a minute of dissent on the report of the Committee.
    3. The report of the Committee, together with the minutes of dissent, if any, shall be presented to the Houses.

    A Standing Committee shall not ordinarily consider matters within the purview of any other Parliamentary Committee. The report of a Standing Committee shall have persuasive value and shall be treated as considered advice given by the Committee. 


    UPSC Current Affairs: Vodafone Tax Controversy i. DTAA – Need and Rationale ii Misuse of DTAA iii. Decoding Tax Controversy – Article – Pg 1

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper-III  

    Sub Theme: Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement | UPSC  

    What is Base Erosion and Profit shifting (BEPS)?

    • It refers to tax avoidance strategy wherein the companies take undue advantage of the tax exemptions in order to pay less tax.
    • As part of tax avoidance strategy, the Multinational companies shift their profits from high tax jurisdictions to low tax jurisdictions (tax havens) in order to pay less tax. This leads to erosion of the tax base of the high tax jurisdictions. This causes significant revenue losses for the high tax jurisdictions.
    • A report published by OECD in 2017 has stated that BEPS is responsible for tax losses of around $200bn globally.

    Tools of BEPS

    Some of the tools of the BEPS are misuse of DTAA, Round Tripping, Treaty Shopping, Transfer Pricing etc. Let us understand these tools.


    • A DTAA is a tax treaty signed between two or more countries. Its key objective is that tax-payers in these countries can avoid being taxed twice for the same income. A DTAA applies in cases where a tax-payer resides in one country and earns income in another.
    • DTAAs are intended to make a country an attractive investment destination by providing relief on dual taxation. Such relief is provided by exempting income earned abroad from tax in the resident country. India has signed DTAA with more than 80 countries.

    Misuse of DTAA

    • India has signed DTAA with the tax havens such as Mauritius, Singapore, Cayman Islands etc. These DTAAs have been misused by the MNCs in order to reduce their tax liability in India.
    • For example, If company (Shell Company) is registered in tax haven and carries out the operations through its subsidiary based in India. Under the provisions of DTAA, the company would be liable to pay tax only in the tax haven country, even for the profits which it makes in India. This causes significant revenue loss for India.

    Treaty Shopping

    • Under Treaty Shopping, a foreign company routes its investment into India through a tax haven country i.e. it registers a company headquartered in tax haven and then establishes its Indian subsidiaries to carry out the operations. For example, Hutch's investment into India was routed through Cayman Islands.
    • Since, the company is based in tax haven, it would be liable to pay tax to the Tax haven country.

    Round Tripping

    Round tripping refers to the practice where, capital belonging to India goes out to tax haven country where it is used to set up Shell Company. The money is then, reinvested back in India in the form of FDI.

    The profit out of such investment cannot be taxed in India as the capital  is coming from tax haven.

    Transfer Mispricing

    • Transfer price refers to the price at which the parent/subsidiary company sells its goods and services to another subsidiary company.
    • Under transfer mispricing, a subsidiary company located in India sells its goods and services at higher prices to another subsidiary company located in low tax jurisdiction.
    • This leads to higher operating costs of the subsidiary company in India and consequently, lower profits. Thus, the subsidiary company ends up reducing the tax liability.

    OECD BEPS Project

    • In order to combat risks associated with BEPS and to improve the transparency, the OECD has come out with 15 point action plan based on the recommendations of G-20.
    • The BEPS Action 13 report (Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting) provides a template for multinational enterprises (MNEs) to report annually and for each tax jurisdiction in which they do business. This report is called theCountry-by-Country (CbC) Report.
    • Under this, MNEs are also required to identify each entity within the group doing business in a particular tax jurisdiction, and to provide information about the business activities each entity conducts. This information is to be made available to the tax authorities in all jurisdictions in which the MNE operates.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) - Page 2

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains: GS III – Science & Technology

    Sub theme: RRTS | UPSC


    • The first look of Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) trains was unveiled. The state-of-the-art RRTS rolling stock will be the first-of-its-kind in the country with a design speed of 180 kmph, said the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
    • The entire rolling stock for the 82-km-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor, the first such corridor being implemented in India aimed to bring down travel time between Delhi and Meerut to an hour (one-third of the 3-4 hours taken by road), will be manufactured at Bombardier’s Savli plant in Gujarat.

    This topic of Regional Transit System is important form the perspective of GS 1 mains syllabus

    • Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

    So in this regard we will understand the RTS, its need and the benefits derived from it.

    What is Rapid Transit System?

    • Rapid transit or mass rapid transit (MRT), also known as heavy rail, metro, subway, tube, U-Bahn, metropolitan or underground, is a type of high-capacity public transport generally found in urban areas.

    Why do we need RRTS?

    • The National Capital Region (NCR) has grown over the years to cover parts of states around Delhi namely, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
    • Today the total area which falls under NCR is about 55,083 km2 with the total population of over 46 million (4.6 crores) (Census 2011). The region has seen a decadal population growth of ~24% between 2001 and 2011. Entire NCR is an urban agglomeration with an urbanization of about 62%.
    • Further, in 2007, the number of Passenger vehicles crossing Delhi borders breached 1,100,000 (Eleven Lakhs) per day. This has triggered the need to have effective regional public transport system on a priority.
    • So, if you consider the Urban areas, the problems faced by the residents are:
      • Excessive travels times because
        • Long distancesof Urban sprawls
        • Congestion due to incapacity of roads
      • Excessive Pollution
        • Creating health problems
      • Loss of economic activity
        • Due to increased cost and timing
        • Deters agglomeration

    What are the benefits

    • Enhanced Economic Activities
      • A high-speed, comfortable and affordable mode of transport like RRTS has the potential to change the movement patterns of people and usher-in economic development across the region.
      • With reduced travel times, the overall productivity of the region would improve, leading to improved overall economic activity leading to balanced economic development.
      • The RRTS would lead to a polycentric economic development in a uniform manner across the region.
    • Lower Emissions
      • With a reduced number of private vehicles and shift towards clean transportation system like RRTS, fuel consumption is expected to go down. Low fuel consumption means lower emissions and less pollution.
    • Easing of Road Congestion
      • RRTS has capacity to ferry a larger number of people per hour. RRTS, which could shift a large amount of traffic from road to rail could free up a lot of road space and ease congestion on highways across the NCR.
      • The Delhi-Ghaziabad-Gurugram RRTS corridor alone is expected to take off over 1 lakh vehicles from the road, easing congestion on the road.
    • Improved Access to Jobs and Facilities
      • The three corridors of Phase-I alone is expected to generate 21000 direct jobs. The RRTS would open up new markets and opportunities for people by connecting them through a high-speed network. The commuters will get a world-class travel experience.
      • The faster commute would allow people to have access to better facilities like healthcare, education etc.
    • Savings in Travel Cost and Time
      • The high-speed journey through RRTS will be offered at an affordable price leading to savings, increasing their disposable incomes and quality of life. A faster commute would free up people's time for more productive activities.
    • Reduced Energy Use
      • With the low land footprint and high throughput, RRTS will be rail-based efficient system. It will mark a modal shift in favour of public transports, reducing the use of private vehicles. Implementation of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS Corridor is expected to shift the modal share in favour of public transport from 37% to 63% in the region. A shift towards public transportation will reduce the energy use by the transport sector in the National Capital Region.
      • This would not only lead to reduced fuel consumption in the region, but also the country's import dependence on foreign oil.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar - Pg 03

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: History & Culture |Mains: GS I – History & Culture

    Sub theme: Social Reforms – Widow Remarriage | UPSC  

    Context: Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was born on 26th September 1820 as Ishwarchandra Bandyopadhyay in Hoogly district. He received the title of Vidyasagar from Sanskrit College of Calcutta for his excellent performance in Sanskrit and philosophy. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a part of the larger social movement called Bengal Renaissance, which started with the enlightened leadership of Raja Rammohan Roy and he raised his voice against child marriage, polygamy and mistreatment of widows, to usher in a new thinking about social ignominies then prevalent in India.

    • Pundit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a legendary educationist and a social reformer who challenged Hindu orthodoxy, played a pivotal role in helping widows get remarried and fought for women’s education as well as ending the shameful and stigmatised practice of child marriage.
    • One of the most famous reformers, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, used the ancient texts to suggest that widows could remarry.
    • He was the most prominent campaigner for Hindu widow remarriage and petitioned Legislative council despite severe opposition.
    • His suggestion was adopted by British officials, and a law was passed in 1856 permitting widow remarriage.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Fridays for Future Global Movement - Pg 3

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of international importance   

    Sub theme: Fridays for Future | UPSC  

    About Fridays for Future

    • Global Climate Strike Movement that started in August 2018.
    • Demands:
    • Keep the Global temperature rise below 1.5 c
    • Ensure Climate Justice and Equity
    • Follow the Paris Climate Change Deal 


    UPSC Current Affairs: Doha-Kabul Journey as a Road to nowhere – Article - Pg 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of international importance | Mains: GS Paper II – International Relations

    Sub theme: Peace Deal – Taliban – USA – Afghan Government | UPSC      

    Context: United States has realised that staying any further in Afghanistan will not only hurt their diplomatic and economic interest but will also be futile and serve no future purpose. Hence, in its reluctance to withdraw from Afghanistan, US is trying to broker a deal between the Afghan Government and Taliban to come to some sort of understanding regarding power sharing. However, finding a middle ground for both Taliban and Afghan Government seems difficult considering the contradictory type of government both wants.  

    Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America – 29th February 2020 

    A comprehensive peace agreement is made of four parts

    1. Guarantees and enforcement mechanisms that will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.
    2. Guarantees, enforcement mechanisms, and announcement of a timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.
    3. After the announcement of guarantees for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and timeline in the presence of international witnesses, and guarantees and the announcement in the presence of international witnesses that Afghan soil will not be used against the security of the United States and its allies, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban will start intra-Afghan negotiations with Afghan sides on March 10, 2020.
    4. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an item on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations. The participants of intra-Afghan negotiations will discuss the date and modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, including joint implementation mechanisms, which will be announced along with the completion and agreement over the future political roadmap of Afghanistan.

    What Afghanistan Government wants?

    • Abdullah Abdullah who is the Chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation and overseeing the government’s peace efforts has signaled that Afghanistan government wants democracy as the basis with liberal values and equal rights for everyone including the minorities and women. 
    • The Afghan team is trying to safeguard the constitution and all the rights that women, minorities, and others have gained in the last 20 years.  

    What does Taliban Want and why is the Deal not moving forward?

    • Mullah Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader has signaled clearly that they want an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan and wants to define all rights according to their interpretation of Islam. 
    • Taliban Representatives have said that they do not values of western societies to be imposed on the people of Afghanistan and does not believe in women’s right and liberal values which exist in Europe or United States. Rather they want to govern the society strictly as per Islamic law.
    • Further, the historic negotiations between the Taliban and an Afghan government are also stuck on the most basic of questions, like how to describe the two decades of war in Afghanistan. The Taliban want to call it “jihad” whereas the other side disagrees.  

    Striking a Middle Ground may be difficult

    • Given the history of Taliban’s love for orthodoxy and theocracy, Taliban’s version of an Islamic emirate will be in direct contradiction to what the Afghan government wants in terms of democracy, human rights and equal rights for women and minorities.
    • Striking a middle ground may be difficult, even impossible. Furthermore, this would be a deal-breaker.

    US likely withdrawal from Afghanistan

    • Considering the stalemate reached between Afghanistan government and Taliban, Donald Trump is very much keen to withdraw from the place.
    • It is here where the role of US President Donald Trump becomes important as he will most likely announce exit of United States and will term its exit as major US victory by listing the following achievements:
    • The al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is neutralised
    • Taliban has severed its relationship with all external actors,
    • Killing of Osama bin Laden
    • Elections and democracy in Afghanistan
    • Finally resumption of an intra-Afghan dialogue
    • Based on these achievements it is likely that Donald Trump would announce withdrawal of all American troops, before Christmas or the New Year. So, after West Asia (Abraham Accord), Afghanistan would be Mr. Trump’s major achievement.

    Impact of US withdrawal on Intra-Afghan dialogue

    • The American exit from Afghanistan (physically and politically) would rupture the intra-Afghan dialogue process.
    • The Afghan government has not only been reluctant from the beginning to engage with the Taliban but is also divided within in terms of how it sees the Taliban.
    • Afghanistan Government including the President and Vice-President are not very comfortable in sharing power with Taliban.
    • The Afghan leadership was pressurised by the U.S. and even threatened with an aid cut, to get on to the road to Doha for talks with Taliban.
    • Recent organisation of the Loya Jirga or Assembly by Afghan government to create a consensus on starting a dialogue with the Taliban in Doha was done under extreme American pressure.
    • Afghan government has slowly tried to build a safer nation by creating institutions to take care of rights of women and minorities. This has made many Afghans look at their future beyond the tribal and religious orders. However, talking with Taliban to reach a middle ground on these issues will prove to be a difficult task for the government.

    Taliban never left the road of Violence

    • Taliban wants nothing short of an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and is ready to employ violence to achieve its purpose once the US troops leave the place. On violence, Taliban has earlier clarified that if it stops fighting, nothing remains to talk about.
    • Taliban’s fight will be with a sense of revenge against the international troops, the Afghan government and the Afghan people.
    • Despite the February 2020 agreement with the U.S. in Doha, the Taliban never stopped from using violence. Available data would suggest that there has been no let-up in violence since February 2020, and in the process, the Taliban has got what it has wanted i.e. the release of all Taliban prisoners.
    • Once the Americans leave, Taliban would go back to the strategy that has yielded maximum dividends — violence. As one could observe during the last week, violence continues today, even during the post-Doha meeting between the two actors. 

    Return of Regional Players

    • Once, the US leaves Afghanistan, regional players like Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia and India would be back at negotiating table with Afghanistan to serve their individual interest.
    • For India, stability in Afghanistan will be important and accordingly will not support Taliban as India considers Taliban as a non-state actor. For India, Afghanistan is another road towards Central Asia apart from Chabahar.


    • Road from Kabul to Doha to find a solution between Taliban and Afghan Government seemed difficult considering the contradictions between the two.
    • However, the return journey from Doha to Kabul would be even tougher and more complicated. It is also possible that the Doha-Kabul journey could be a road to nowhere.
    • Afghanistan will be again filled with regional players who will be ready to cut each other’s throat to serve their individual interest.    



    Aseem Verma 5 months ago

    sir .. can the member of these committee gets re-elected for the same committee , the consecutive year(the very year in which their term is over)?

    and thank you for all your unconditional efforts .. we are very much obliged sir